Sunday, January 31, 2010

By land, by sea, by dirigible

The summer after I left the Ex, I slept like a crazy person. Literally. Like a crazy person. In medical school, when I had to do admit psych patients to the state hospital, I always asked how they were sleeping. I clearly remember the way they would sometimes look at me with wild, bloodshot eyes and say, “Not so good…not so good.” I was once scolded by my attending for not asking them to tell me more about that. I didn’t ask, because I didn’t need to. When they said, Not good, I would nod knowingly, thinking, Been there, done that.

During one of the hotter summers on record, in a third story apartment without air, in a building that smelled like smoke and fish sticks, I spent months of fitful nights. And by that, I mean, my nights were full of fit. I had bad dreams so vivid I still have to remind myself some of those things didn’t actually happen to me. Every footstep in the hallway, whistling pipe, and wind whipped branch left me sitting straight up in bed, wide eyed and shaky, fully expecting to find him standing over me.

Somehow though, through all those nights of terror, an amazing dream occasionally crept in. It’s an early Summer or maybe a Fall morning in New York. A Sunday. It’s not hot, just warm enough. I’m walking from an apartment in the Village to a neighborhood coffee shop. Walking beside me is a little girl, 5 or 6 years old. She is talking a mile a minute, looking up at me every few seconds, prodding me a bit to hold up my end of the conversation. I am smiling, occasionally throwing out a, “Is that so?” As I look down at her, I am struck by two things: First, I can’t understand how anything so incredible as she is could be my life. Second, I can’t believe she’s a morning person.

We walk on. She chatters. I nod at her observations, laughing at moments when she is funny without meaning to be. Suddenly, I look up and see him walking in our direction.

He walks hand in hand with a little boy who looks just like him. On his other side is a woman, his wife. She pushes baby a stroller. They look just like normal Midwestern tourists in New York. He looks amazing. It is as if a normal, content man has somehow grown inside of his skin. And here I am, walking towards him, completely unafraid because he is so clearly just…fine. He is happy and healthy and fine. The terrifying psychotic nut job I was married to in what feels like a hundred years ago simply is not here. He has been replaced by a content, middle-aged man with the wife and kids he always wanted. In that dream, in that moment, I got a taste of what it is to feel ok. It felt like everything was just suddenly ok.

A while back, my friend John posted a story about seeing someone he was once married to years later. He said that he felt beyond. He told the story, in part, for me…as a reminder, or a hope, or a wish that I would one day feel beyond.

Recently, I found myself thinking about that story, thinking that I might never get there. I didn’t realize until I moved away just how much I still lived like I was afraid of the Ex. “Preoccupied,” Blake said. “Not that I blame you, but you’ve clearly been preoccupied with it.”

Blake was right. I didn’t realize until I physically moved away from the imminent danger just how much of it I had internalized and carried with me all the time, everywhere. It didn’t consume me or keep me up at night. It didn’t rob me of joy or even of contentment. But it was there, like a sore muscle about which I constantly, quietly told myself, “Keep moving…it’ll loosen up.”

Last week, I reconnected with an old friend on Facebook. She said, “You know, I’ve searched for you a few times on here but couldn’t find you. You must have some wicked privacy settings.” I got to thinking maybe I could lighten up those settings a skoch. I decided to search for the Ex on Facebook first. If I didn’t find him, I figured maybe that meant he was one of the four people on the planet who hasn’t yet succumb to the lameness of social networking. If so, maybe I would feel a little better about being a bit more Facebook public.

And that is how I learned that the ex just got remarried. He got married, and in the photo he posted online, he looks ok.

I cannot describe how I felt in that moment, except to say that it is probably something akin to the way you feel when someone asks you how you are and you honestly answer, “Fine.”

I was overwhelmed with fine.

I danced (don’t picture this part, it’s not pretty) around my apartment to The Decemberists’ Sons and Daughters which happened to be playing on my iPod at the time. Days later, during unseasonably warm weather, in a torrential downpour, I had an amazing run through my neighborhood fueled by the same song.

I’m putting some space between myself and preoccupied...and for the first time, I can see beyond in the distance.

Friday, January 15, 2010

27 years ago today...

Graci showed up.
And the party was suddenly so much better.

Happy birthday, friend.

Love, T

Since the last time I said that... one year ago today...

You became Graci, MD. (Granted, you have chosen a specialty that will never really provide you with cause to write that on a prescription pad, but looks sorta sexy when you scrawl it on the bar receipt, doesn't it?)

You matched into your first choice residency program. An ivy league program, no less. (Which almost makes up for the fact that your local airport is a freaking Twilight Zone shit hole that flies people into town but then can somehow never figure out how to fly them back out.)

Since starting said residency program, you've only lost one testicle. (And to be fair, it's not like he was still using the thing.)

You became an aunt. (There is absolutely nothing humorous to say here. That baby is so cute, it's not even funny.)

You spent a Sunday morning strolling through Central Park with a friend. (Your friend felt like the luckiest woman in all of New York that day.)

Speaking of starting that residency program, in order to do so, you moved far away from home. (So far, your mother has survived that move.)

You have not just survived the move. You have thrived. I know this has not been an easy year, but you have handled it all with such incredible grace. When I called tonight, you sounded amazing. You were having real beer instead of one of those stupid girlie drinks! You were laughing with new friends. You were totally sucking at Fussball...but yelling, "Shut up, it's my birthday!" seemed to be earning you the points your abysmal eye-beer-hand coordination could not.

Happy birthday, Graci.
I couldn't be more proud to be your bif.

Love, T

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

What I meant when I said

First of all, I just want to say that Anonymous' comment on that last post cracked me up (entirely without meaning to, I suspect). I can't help but agree with you—my blogging has much improved, with that particular post showcasing the height of raw my talent in both the creative and original categories. In all seriousness, thank you for the compliment. (And if you were just being facetious, I appreciate that as well and thank you for the laugh.)

When the rest of the world eventually realizes what Anonymous already has (he or she is a truly ahead of his or her time) and I win that Nobel prize for blogging, may I suggest that you shop for my gifts in Anthropologie's kitchen section? You really can't go wrong with these. Or anything with a bird on it. Trust me. I spent two hours there today talking myself out of buying everything with a bird on it.

Anyway, what did I come here for again? Oh yes, that's right. I was supposed to talk about just how hot "really hot" really is. First of all, I wasn't actually trying to be elusive when I posted that as the totality of my date update. Honestly, the guy is cute and...the end.

He's really just cute. And that's really just enough. I don't have the time or emotional energy to invest in dating someone who's much more. In this case, I throw on a little eyeliner, and I've pretty much done all I need to rise to the occasion.

And again, you ask, "How cute?"

Well, when he came to pick me up last week, I thought, "You look sort of like that guy who's married to Buffy the vampire slayer. What's his name? Something sort of absurd...oh yes, Freddie Prince, Jr. You look like Freddie Prince, Jr. Except, you have better hair."

I suppose the next obvious question is, "When are you and Freddie going out again?" Well, that was supposed to be tonight. We were actually on the phone deciding on a movie just before 6 when his pager went off. Damn those traumas. He just called to say he was finally done for the night. He said he was disappointed about missing our movie but that he had a hell of a lot of fun in that big, bloody case. I don't blame him. I would have enjoyed it, too.

We now have tentative plans to get together on Friday. He was hoping for Saturday, but I already have a date with a cute boy on Saturday. Isn't that right, Evan? (He's the taller one on the left.)

Blake is on call on Saturday night, and well...the other half of that piano bench isn't going to fill itself now, is it? Evan's going to make French food and cocktails. Then, we're going to sit on that bench while he does Virginia Woolf doing I Dreamed a Dream. That's probably really only funny if you have known Evan, read Virginia Woolf, seen The Hours, and loved Les Misérables. But in that case, it's really, really funny.

Although I very much appreciate all the delightful trouble you can get into with a Freddie, I'm saving my Saturday night for all the hysterical laughing you can get into with an Evan.

Finally, I think Maria may have been on to something when she said...

Mostly, everything depends on three questions:

1) Do I look forward to our talks more than the kissing?
2) If something really good or really bad happens to me, is he the one who I want to tell about it?

3) Am I comfortable dancing with him?

If you can answer yes to all three, you have yourself a possibility.

In this case, not a possibility...just a whole lot of hot.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A date update

The guy was really hot.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A date

I have a date tonight.

I just spent half a minute staring at that line up there.

This is not my first date ever. It's not even my first date since redeeming my singleness. But, for some reason, staring at that line up there makes me want to crawl into bed with a bottle of wine and a book and ignore my cell phone for a week.

In fact, if I didn't think that Blake would show up at my apartment, break down the door, and bitch slap me for canceling on a guy about whom he has so eloquently said, "God, I would hit that," I might just go ahead and skip it.

I'm going on the date for two reasons: First, clearly I'm afraid of Blake. Second (and I swear to God, if you tell him I said this, I'll bitch slap you into next week), he's right. The guy is hot.